While many of the industry greats attended Electronic Entertainment Expo 2011, I sat back in silence and observed. Most of the time while tenting my fingers.
So, here's my honest opinion on how the three main companies did this year.
Even before E3 began I had a gut feeling that Microsoft would not be bringing anything new to the table this year. Sometimes I hate it when I'm right. There were a bunch of casual/family-oriented Kinect games, a few sequels, an HD Remake... and that was it, really.
Of the Kinect games, none were particularly notable: There was a Fake-Disneyland Exploration game, a Star Wars game where you wave your hands around and shout "Lightsaber, on!" which is supposed to be cutting edge when it's been done since at least 2003 (the earliest example that I can call to mind is Rainbow Six 3: Lockdown for the Xbox, and at least that you could control your whole team instead of just turning a lightsaber on).
Then, there was the announcement that we all knew would be coming at some point: New Halo trilogy. I'm skeptical about it quality-wise, but I'm willing to give the new dev team the benefit of the doubt until I see a reason not to. There were also the two givens: Gears of War 3 (which we all knew was coming anyways and who's presentation contained Ice-T for some reason) and Forza Motorsport 4 (which will always be Microsoft's answer to Gran Turismo and nothing more, customization options aside). The most shocking announcement revealed that Minecraft would be coming to Xbox and would have Kinect support. While the fan-made hack of Minecraft to support Kinect amounted to waving your arms to chop materials, here's hoping that they'll think of more innovative uses than that, and it's always good to see an indie developer get the recognition he deserves when making such a great game.
If E3 was a competition, Sony would have won by default because of Microsoft's falling flat on its ass and Nintendo's newest console being difficult to place bets on as of yet, as well as containing the least-stupid name of the new consoles. The long-rumored PSP successor was revealed as being the PS Vita, which, hardware-wise is one sexy piece of machinery. Dual and improved analog sticks, dual touch-screens, a camera, and processing power that very well may surpass the Wii's... at only $249. Yes, you read that right, $249.
Sony's third-party support came through once again, with Irrational Games revealing a BioShock project. Also announced for the new handheld was an Uncharted game, a WipeOut game (CROSS-PLATFORM MULTIPLAYER WITH WIPEOUT HD), and a few others. Irrational also announced that their upcoming title, BioShock Infinite would not only support the Move peripheral, but would also come with the original BioShock on the same Blu-Ray. There was also more footage of games like Resistance 3 (also Move-enabled), the SSX reboot, and Need For Speed: The Run.
When it comes to E3 showcases, Nintendo certainly knows how to be classy. The Nintendo showcast opened with a live orchestra playing tunes from the Zelda series; effectively opening with the very same strategy that they seemed to use during the presentation: Banking on nostalgia. After the opening ceremonies, Nintendo unveiled their latest console. Hopes were high for this new console. After all, people got over the Wii's stupid moniker pretty soon, right? Nintendo had to have learned from their mistakes and make a new HD console, right?
Well, both yes and no. The HD is there, the processing power seems to be there, but the stupid name remains: the Wii U.
More like No U, amirite?
The controller has a big-ass touch screen smack-dab in the middle of the controller. One design decision that I find baffling is that they put the buttons BELOW the analog sticks.
Nintendo knows best.
For games, all the obvious entries were there: Mario, Zelda, Metroid, generic party games along the lines of Wii Sports, and so on. The surprise here is that The Wii-U has more solid third-party support than its predecessor, with Gearbox, EA, and Sigil Games all hopping on the bandwagon, stating that the Wii-U is a graphical powerhouse and even more innovative than the Wii. Unfortunately, when footage of some third-party Wii U games was shown, this footage was revealed to be PS3/360 footage. Not a good way to unveil your new console.
So, during E3 '11, there were many new products unveiled: Some destined to be a towering success, some potential blunders, and one thing that most of us aren't even sure to make of yet. Either way, the next year will be a very interesting time for the industry, in more ways than one.